Skip to Content
  • Language
  • End User
  • Educational Use
  • Time Required

Found 5,969 Collections


Teaching Literary Devices through Art

A good visual can often be the key to understanding (and remembering) a seemingly abstract concept. This collection demonstrates how artworks in the Smithsonian American Art Museum may be used to teach common literary devices in the English/language arts classroom such as metaphor, irony, symbolism, and more.

Key words: allegory, allusion, anthropomorphism, foreshadowing, irony, juxtaposition, metaphor, mood, motif, satire, suspense, symbol

Phoebe Hillemann

Teaching Resources | Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater

How do you see the world? What’s your point of view? What informs, shapes, and affects it? What does it mean to take on another person’s point of view, and why is it important? This teaching collection features two artworks from the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery by Ahmed Mater, a contemporary Saudi artist. Use this collection to introduce global competency and close looking in the classroom.

In addition to teaching strategies and two artworks by Ahmed Mater, this collection also includes: an article on global thinking routines; a digital version of the book "Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World;" the gallery guide to the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery exhibition "Symbolic Cities, the Work of Ahmed Mater;" an article about Ahmed Mater's "Symbolic Cities" exhibition; and a link to a Learning Lab student activities set using the strategies and resources compiled here.

This collection was created to support the 2016 CCSSO Teachers of the Year Day at the Smithsonian.

Tag: Middle East, Near East, Saudi Arabia, Mecca, Urbanization, Project Zero, Asia Society, See Think Wonder, 3 Ys
Freer and Sackler Galleries

Teaching Resources: Artful Animals

This topical collection gathers resources related to animal meanings and motifs in African art. Includes art objects related to 30 animals (real and mythical!), information on symbolism, a map of Africa, activities, audio, folktales, a guide on how to look at African art, and links to other teaching resources on Artful Animals.

Tag: Africa

This collection was created to support the 2016 CCSSO Teachers of the Year Day at the Smithsonian.
Deborah Stokes

Teaching Resources: Blues Music

This teaching collection includes a variety of resources to complement a study of 12-bar blues and ‘melodic improvisation’. Through these lesson plans, sheet music, video performances and podcasts, teachers can introduce key elements of the blues sound, as well as writing with the historical context of the development of the blues.

This collection was created for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Arts Professional Development Day.


Ashley Naranjo

Teaching Resources: Creating a Classroom Exhibition

In a museum, it is the job of curators to select objects for display. Curators also study the objects in the museum’s collection. They learn as much as they can about each object so that they can share the story with the museum’s visitors. This collection of teaching resources includes lesson plan ideas for creating a classroom exhibition, a video detailing the Cooper Hewitt's "Digital Curator Project" with teens, as well as a small sample of videos of curators from around the Smithsonian discussing their jobs and research interests. Also included are suggested guidelines for a peer review of student exhibitions.
Ashley Naranjo

Teaching Resources: Drama

This teaching collection includes a variety of resources including video performances, lesson plans and blogs with teaching ideas for bringing role playing to the classroom, as a means of making connections of the past to the present. Includes program ideas from the History Alive theater program at the National Museum of American History and the Portraits Alive program at the National Portrait Gallery.

This collection was created for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Arts Professional Development Day.
Ashley Naranjo

Teaching Resources: Jazz Music

This teaching collection includes a variety of resources to complement a study of Jazz compositions and performers. Through these lesson plans, sheet music, artworks, and video performances, teachers can introduce the musical evolution of jazz styles and contributions of key performers. Teachers might also introduce musical techniques involved in the creation and performance of jazz.

This collection was created for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Arts Professional Development Day.


Ashley Naranjo

Teaching The Great Gatsby with Informational Texts


This collection complements teaching The Great Gatsby using the lens of economics. Informational texts provide foundation for questions like: why should we care about economic inequality?

Cristi Marchetti

Teaching with Collections

This issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom includes two lessons from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC). The first follows the SEEC model of introducing new concepts with familiar items. In early-algebra exercises, students organize a collection of random buttons, counting and multiplying them according to attributes. In the second lesson, the students work with a collection of seashells to see how sorting and classifying relates to the work of natural scientists.

Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Teaching with Haitian Art and Heritage with Frost Collection

Understanding Haitian Culture though Art

This lesson will support teaching Haitian traditions and culture through the Frost Art Museum collections. It will also provide a look into cultural identity, Haitianite supported by research conducted by two FIU faculty members .  The PowerPoint will expand on Haitian history and the notes will add talking points. The  Miami Dade County Public School lessons support various investigations from the past to the present.

Connections to the Polish Black Virgin demonstrate the spread of culture and religious beliefs that traveled as countries were conquered.


Teaching with Objects

This collection demonstrates the range of ways that you can teach with historic objects.

Teaching with the Smithsonian Learning Lab: A Workshop for George Washington University Faculty and Graduate Students

For the workshop, Teaching with the Smithsonian’s Learning Lab – Millions of Resources at Your Fingertips! (January 8, 2020), this is a collection of digital museum resources and instructional strategies.  It includes a warm-up activity, a close-looking exercise, and supporting materials for participants to create their own teaching collections. 

This collection was co-created with Tess Porter


Philippa Rappoport

Teatro Campesino

How does art reflect culture?


Lindsey Leeper

Tech and Tour Homework Collection

This is a collection of photos of the University of Illinois campus.

Alie Wimmer

Technological Advancements in the 1920's

The 1920's was a decade of new innovations to help create a simpler life for both soldiers and civilians after World War 1. 

Tahj Martin

Technological Evolution

Our rapidly developing world has lead to unprecedented evolutions in technology. Technology tells a continuous narrative of innovation, disruption, collaboration, risk and resilience. Through this collection students explore the essential questions: What makes something innovative? How do you define innovation?

To help unpack these questions have students explore each object by answering:

  • Who is this object made for?
  • How is it used?
  • What did this object allow people to do?
  • What connections do you notice between the objects?
  • Was this technology innovative for its time? Why/Why not?  

This collection was inspired by the Bob Greenberg Selects exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum:

Jasmine Kassulke

Technology 1920s

bria kosanovich

Technology and American Popular Music

The evolution of tecnology has allowed American Popular music to continue to be popular. Technology has allowed consumers of all generations to access all types of music easily and have the history of American Popular music at their fingertips. Legendary artists like Nat King Cole and the Beatles remain legendary thanks to the volition of technology. Consumers are able to watch and listen to these legendary artists from wherever even when their music on records and CD's fades away.


Technology of the Great War (WWI, World War One)

Technological advancements contributed to World War I costing more money and killing more people than all previous wars in history.

Students will be able to answer the question: What kinds technology existed during the First World war and what were their impacts on the war?

Scott Karavlan

Technology: Unstacked

UNSTACKED is a wonderful way to spark inquiry, analysis, and discussion. By visually exploring our images, you can bring the Smithsonian Libraries' collections into your classroom. Use UNSTACKED as a morning exercise, a way to introduce a new topic, or to discover your students' interests. Picture your world, dive into the stacks! 

The research and creation of this project was funded by the Gates Foundation Youth Access Grant.

Smithsonian Libraries

Ted Kennedy: 1980 Democratic Primary Campagin

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932-2009) was an American politician and lawyer who served as a United States Senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy finally decided to seek the Democratic nomination in the 1980 Presidential Election by launching an unusual, insurgent campaign against the incumbent Carter, a member of his own party. On the penultimate day, Kennedy conceded the nomination and called for a more liberal party platform in what many saw as the best speech of his career.

Tags: politics, campaign, election, vote, Kennedy, 1980, Democrat, president, candidate, primary, primaries, Democratic Party, Ted Kennedy


Tejas Srinivasan- A Trip Through The 1920s

I will be utilizing a variety of artifacts from the 1920s in order to give a broad representation of the time period. The goal of this collection is to give more insight into the social, economic, and political conditions that existed in the decade after World War 1. Specifically, this collection looks into the change for women during the time period, the racism and nativist attitude that persisted, and the booming economy that gave way to new inventions. 

Tejas Srinivasan

Tell Me a Story: The Human Imperative for Narrative

In this collection, I am exploring the connections between storytelling and art.  I will also look at the connection of storytelling to neuroscience and the effects of storytelling on the human brain. I will be referencing the work of Will Storr (The Science of Storytelling), neuroscientists, psychologists and resources from institutions such as the Smithsonian, The National Gallery of Art, The British Museum, National Geographic, and the J. Paul Getty Museum.  I will look at how artists use content, meaning, and context to create narrative within their particular medium.

Research suggest that language developed as a way to convey "social information", gossip. Furthermore, it is documented that curiosity kicks the dopamine reward signal in the human brain.  Will Storr in his 2019 book, gorgeously researched and perfectly titled The Science of Storytelling tells us that psychologist Jonathon Haidt says the brain is a 'story processor' not a 'logic processor'.  All of this tells us that humans are hardwired to tell and receive stories.  

How do artists tell stories?  Both Storr and Kidd tell us that psychologist Dr. George Lowenstein asserts there are four ways to induce curiosity in the human brain: questions or puzzles; a sequence of events without revelation of the "end"; "violation of expectations that triggers a search for an explanation"; or knowing that someone else knows something and you want to know it too.  One could almost use these as headings to categorize art and and artistic movements.  Artist capture a moment in time that prods human curiosity, in some cases for thousands of years, to create the rest of the story of that suspended juncture.

The audience for this collection might be students of psychology or English.  It could be of interest to creators of story including novelists, playwrights, actors, screenwriters, musicians, and visual artists.  And anyone interested in what Storr termed as "the science of the human condition".

Will Storr writes, "One benefit of understanding the science of storytelling is that it illuminates the 'whys' behind the 'rules' we're commonly given...Knowing why the rules are the rules means we know how to break them..."


Dunbar, Robin et al. Evolutionary Psychology. One World Publications, 2005.

Kidd, Celeste, and Benjamin Y Hayden. “The Psychology and Neuroscience of Curiosity.” Neuron vol. 88,3 (2015): 449-60. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.09.010

Storr, Will. The Science of Storytelling. London: William Collins, 2019.



Telling Edward Hopper's Untold Stories

This lesson was designed for the 6th grade language arts class. The purpose is to review with students the key elements of a story and to position them to create a short story based on one of the works of Edward Hopper. Our end products will be collected into an ebook of Hopper’s works and the possible backstories behind them as written by the students.
In the class meeting prior to these activities the students will have participated in a videoconference with a SAAM representative who will explain the ways an artist uses color, shape, line, form, etc. to convey meaning. Earlier in the year, students will have been exposed to elements of a story. Their understanding of these will be reviewed and reinforced through these activities.
Three days of activities outlined in the Lesson Concept document. They include activities related to close looking and incorporate the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) of "See, Think, Wonder" (STW), the "I Used to Think...But Now I Think" strategy, and the "Collaborative Poem" strategy (CP).
Keeping the middle school students' needs and interests in mind, I have incorporated group work --both large and small groups-- and hands-on activities that respect their need to move around.

Peggy Veltri
4729-4752 of 5,969 Collections